Marathon Time Prediction Research

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MarathonSurvey4 Marathon Time Prediction Research

Photo credit: Michael Garnett

There is often a gap between the time a runner predicts they will finish a marathon, and their actual finish time. Even after months of training and hard effort, times can be difficult to predict. As a running community, we need to understand this much better. Let’s put our heads together and take a look at what’s actually happening.

We want to hear from you! Please get involved by completing the few short questions in the marathon time prediction research survey.


We’re conducting a research study over the spring marathon training season to look at how accurately runners can predict their own marathon performances.

Over the next few weeks, we’re gathering data from as many spring marathoners as possible, to enable analysis across a large group. All data will be anonymised and treated confidentially, and we are looking at results across the community rather than at any individuals.

How it works:

  • We are asking runners training for a marathon to predict their finish time.
  • We will gather actual finish times, either from chip time results from marathons or by asking runners to send us their finish times.
  • The two times (predicted and actual) will be used in research analysis.
  • We are also asking a few extra questions to see if factors such as experience, age, gender and pace make any difference to prediction accuracy.

We will aim to collect your actual finish time from official results, using chip times. However, we are collecting email addresses in case we need to contact you to confirm your time.

Research Objectives

We are aiming to address the following questions:

  • How well do runners (as a population) generally predict their finish time with accuracy?
  • What proportion of runners actually finish faster than predicted, and what proportion slower?
  • Do the following factors make any difference to predicted vs actual time?
    • Experience (how many marathons run before)
    • Gender
    • Age
    • Pace (faster or slower finishers)
    • How far in advance of race day a prediction is made
    • Event (course and conditions)


  • Your email address will not be shared or used for any other purpose.
  • Your details will be kept entirely confidential, and will be completely anonymous within the research.

Please share

Please share this survey with any friends or club mates training for a spring marathon. The more runners we have involved, the better!


To encourage involvement, we are offering prizes for the ten runners who predict their times most accurately. They will all win a £20 voucher, which can be redeemed against any of the products in The Flying Runner shop including books.

Times can be predicted to the nearest minute within the survey. In the event of a tie for the closest ten predictions, names will be drawn from a hat. Final decisions are at the judges’ discretion.

Join in! Click here for the survey.

Thanks, and good luck with your marathon!

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